iPhone 6 Plus - LTE Compatibility & Speed

Inserting an LTE-ready SIM card on the iPhone 6 Plus

LTE frequencies tend to be quite varied because it has to be either laid alongside or replace the existing 2G and 3G networks. Even so, Apple tries to support as much frequencies as possible because it will reduce the number of region-specific models. Unfortunately, iPhone 5S and 5C each sprawled to five different models, so people asked around whether their iPhones would work on another country's LTE network. I even wrote about iPhone 5S's LTE network compatibility last year, and it has the longest comment thread in this website.

This time around, though, the number of models were reduced to a much more manageable two for both iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. The massive 20-band support did the trick. The good news here is that, if you bought an unlocked iPhone 6 or 6 Plus anywhere in the world and come to Korea, the LTE will work with all three local carriers. Korea should get A1586 / A1524 models on sale in a couple of months, but A1549 / A1522 models often found in United States or Canada should work, too.

After I brought the A1524 iPhone 6 Plus from Japan to Korea, I put the SIM card from my 5S and turned it on. The device had no problems connecting to SK Telecom's LTE network right away. I've confirmed that the situation is the same when you're on KT's network, as well. It seems that the network no longer goes into 3G mode when it sees an unrecognized LTE device, which used to be the case when I brought the iPhone 5S from United States last year.

iPhone 6 Plus hitting 96Mbps download on LTE

Meanwhile, the top speed for LTE data on iPhone 6 series was pushed to 150Mbps from 100Mbps of 5/5C/5S. The bleeding edge phones in Korea are always a step ahead - 150Mbps was possible when iPhone 5 came out and the recent models can do 225Mbps - but with low monthly data caps, they are little more than technology show-off right now.

In any case, I wanted to see how fast the iPhone 6 Plus can do LTE data in real life, so I ran a speed test app. As you can see here, it can go almost up to 100Mbps. Pretty good, but that's how fast an iPhone 5S could supposedly do, as well. Obviously, a side-by-side test was needed.

The tests were done in the middle of the night to minimize network slowdowns, and I also made sure that the devices got the full 20MHz bandwidth that they support. Interestingly, after several runs (one of which is shown in the video), it became clear that the cell tower couldn't even provide a full 150Mbps speed at once. When the speed test was simultaneously run by both, the total bandwidth of about 120Mbps was somewhat evenly split between them, resulting in a lower than expected speed. It was evident that 225Mbps speed is just marketing speak. So I had to run the test one by one.

On average, iPhone 6 Plus showed 96.2Mbps down and 23.3Mbps up, while iPhone 5S showed 77.1Mbps down and 23.2Mbps up. The upload speed for both devices is saturated, as the network provides 25Mbps maximum. Download speed, on the other hand, shows that iPhones peak at around 80% of the maximum given. iPhone 6 Plus is doing about 80% of the 120Mbps the cell tower is providing, and iPhone 5S is doing about 80% of the 100Mbps that the LTE modem it has can do.

All this said, I like the state of the LTE capability of the iPhone 6 Plus overall. It's getting very good speeds as long as the network is up to the task, and it has a near worldwide compatibility. Speaking of capability, there's a new trick that iPhone 6 series has learned, and I'll be taking a look at this next.


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Free AT&T SIM found inside iPhone 5S UPDATE (Sept. 25, 2014): There has been some changes in activating LTE devices from overseas in Korea. [Read the related iPhone 6 Plus review.] When my friend Andy lined up to get the new iPhone 5S, the Apple Sto

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LTE is the 4th generation (4G) wireless data communication standard that supersedes WCDMA and other 3rd generation (3G) ones. Unfortunately, the far more diverse range of frequencies that the carriers around the world uses for this standard is a big heada


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Chris on :


I like your review.
I have a question regarding Iphone 6.
I may travel to Hong Kong or Japan from Seoul to pick up an iphone 6 as well.

I noticed HK has two types of phones. Both are A1586, but one is GSM and the other CDMA.
Which one will work with Korea's and Canada's carriers? Currently with SK Telecom and Olleh (friend).

In Japan, how does it take to reserve a phone generally?
In addition, what A series phone I should purchase that will work with Korea and Canada's carriers?

Thank you for your time and informative site.

Wesley on :

You should get the unlocked GSM version. All major carriers in Korea and Canada support HSPA+, which is a "3.5G" version of GSM. Also, iPhone 6/6+ are compatible with the Korean and Canadian LTE networks regardless of the model number.

If you're going to get an iPhone 6/6+ in Japan, you should simply get the "SIM Free" version, which is the same thing as "unlocked". But the in-store pick-up reservation is tight. You need to have it reserved at the following page (it would be very helpful if you can decipher Japanese) first. I heard the stock is updated around midnight.


BTW, the model number for iPhone 6 in Japan is also A1586.

Sang on :

If I buy AT&T iphone 6 or 6 plums and have it unlocked, would I be able to use them with Korean local mobile operators such as SK or IT without doing anything (i.e. Going to local mobile operator branch and adding the IMEI number, Etc.). Just popping in local sim will work? Thanks for your help!

Wesley on :

Yes, you'll be able to use the unlocked iPhone 6 / 6 Plus on the Korean carriers by simply inserting their SIM card into the device and not do anything else. Both 3G and LTE will work right away. If you need VoLTE, however, that requires the visit to the branch office.

Andre' on :

Hi, im currently living in South Korea and i would like to know if the T-mobile contract free phone will work okay with SKT?
i read several blogs and even saw YouTube videos showing that there are no problems about popping a new sim inside a T-mobile contract free from, some says, its "indirectly" an unlocked phone but im not so sure cause Korea is using a different band.

my question is will mt T-mobile (gsm) contract free from bought from apple stotre (online) in the U.S will work properly here in korea in SKT network?

thank you so much and i will appreciate all your replies :-)

Wesley on :

T-Mobile contract-free iPhones bought from U.S. Apple Store (both online and offline) are unlocked and works with SKT 3G and LTE if you're getting iPhone 5C, 5S, 6, or 6 Plus. This is because the version sold for T-Mobile has the support for the bands being used by the Korean carriers.

Josh on :

So if I buy the A1549 in Canada (unlocked), it will undoubtedly work in Korea's LTE networks? On the Apple website none of the Korean carriers are listed under the A1549 phone model.

Wesley on :

Yes, it will. The only appreciable difference between the two models is whether the Chinese TDD-LTE is supported or not, the technology that isn't used in Canada or Korea.

Chris on :

Hi, thanks for your comments. I really appreciate you helping people like me. I have one quick question regarding getting an iPhone 6+ here in Korea. I am currently staying in Korea and dropped my iphone 5 here. So I am thinking of getting 6+ here and worried if the 6+ i get here would not be compatible with LTE networks in Canada. My experience --> my iphone 5 from canada doesnt work with LTE network here in Korea so I only use 3G network here. Please advise me.

Wesley on :

iPhone 6 and 6 Plus models sold in Korea support full range of LTE bands, and therefore are compatible with Canadian LTE networks.

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